As Western powers and the Obama administration in particular beat the war drums on Syria claiming the Assad regime used chemical weapons, experts, governments, and analysts continue to raise serious doubts about who was behind the attack. More than a few sources have even suggested the massacre outside Damascus may have been perpetrated by establishment-backed Islamist “rebels” to spark overt foreign military intervention in the years-long battle against Syrian authorities. For now, despite official U.S. allegations about “undeniable” evidence, the truth about the chemical attack remains shrouded in uncertainty.
The first and most obvious red flag surrounding claims that the secular Syrian despot deployed weapons of mass destruction is the issue of motive. Analysts and governments suggesting the attack was a so-called “false flag” point out that Assad had no reason to use chemical weapons and plenty of reasons not to. His regime has been largely successful in beating back foreign-funded Islamist rebel forces; he knew such an attack would be seized on as a pretext by foreign powers to intervene more overtly in the conflict; United Nations inspectors had just arrived in the country; and more. The first question in investigations is generally “cui bono?” or "who benefits?" In this case, certainly not Assad.
While the Obama administration continues to blame Assad and the establishment press dutifully parrots the unsubstantiated claims, the Syrian regime has been vociferously denying responsibility. “How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located?” Assad asked in a widely cited interview. “This is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicized and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists.”
On August 27, meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem blasted the Obama administration for “propagating lies” and said that a U.S. attack on Syria would serve al-Qaeda, which has been leading vast segments of the “rebel” movement. "If they have any evidence of our use [of chemical weapons], I challenge them to show this evidence to [global] public opinion," Moualem told reporters in Damascus as UN investigators continue their work. "It's the right of public opinion to know the truth of these allegations." Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations blamed the Western-backed opposition, saying the attack was aimed at bringing about foreign intervention against Assad.
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Photo of UN investigator taking samples near a missile likely used in the chemical attack in Damascus: AP Images